When Craig Federighi takes the stage at WWDC, his bag of tricks might be a little light. According to a new report, the 2023 updates to iOS and macOS might need to shed some features due to a lack of resources.
In his latest Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman reports that Apple has shifted its development focus to xrOS for the upcoming AR headset, and that this change of priorities will “cost it some new features in iOS 17 and iPadOS 17, the next major iPhone and iPad software updates.” The “same goes for macOS 14,” he adds.
That’s not necessarily bad news. A year with fewer new features could give Apple more time to focus on stubborn design and maintenance issues that have persisted in iOS, iPadOS, and macOS. There was a time when Apple would release smaller updates that would focus on performance issues (Snow Leopard, Mountain Lion, etc.) but in recent years Apple has focused on delivering major new features with each update. Several new features were unveiled as part of iOS 16 and macOS 13, including a new customizable Lock Screen, the Stage Manager multitasking interface, and iCloud Shared Photo Library, along with major updates to Safari, Messages, and Mail.
Apple could also opt to add features throughout the development cycle rather than clumping them together in a single blockbuster announcement. The yearly bundle format can be both a blessing and a curse.
Gurman reports that xrOS could make its debut this spring ahead of WWDC, though xrOS is still likely to play a major role at WWDC as Apple explores how it connects to the rest of the ecosystem. For example, Gurman says Apple is working on “an updated version of the Apple Store app for the iPhone, adding augmented-reality capabilities that activate when a user enters one of its retail locations.” Presumably, this would have an interface that mirrors xrOS to tightly integrate the new headset with Apple’s most popular mobile products.